"He was just one of those great, personable guys" said Chris Coffin, with whom Pugh worked at United Blood Services in Meridian. "He would just light up a room and he could lighten the spirit."
Pugh, who had been married almost a year, was a licensed paramedic who worked for United Blood Services in Meridian, Coffin said. He was also a member of the Mississippi National Guard.
The National Guard is a reserve and back up to the regular army, in times of peace its members complete a basic training programme and then take part in activities on occasional weekends. However when America goes to war so does its reserve, and like Robert Pugh many members of the National Guard have found themselves serving in Iraq putting their lives on their line - and taking others - so Bush and his capitalist cronies can reap the profit.
Like the other branches of the U.S. military, the National Guard advertises heavily for recruits. As well as offering to pay college and education expenses they promise "good pay while you learn important job skills, gain critical life experiences and acquire the kind of leadership training that future employers look for." In fact, 31% more veterans are unemployed than non-veterans. Likewise at least two thirds of those who apply for college funding fail to receive it.
The Irish government are complicit in the deaths of these U.S. soldiers, not to mention the 100,000 or so Iraqis the troops have slaughtered. In 2004 more than 158,000 US Troops flew through Shannon Airport, most on their way to Iraq. During much of that same period of time approximately 5,500 US Troops have deserted, gone into hiding, been sent to jail and some have escaped to Canada. Another 1,700 have deserted their posts in Iraq itself.
In a situation where their government is more than happy to see them kill and die for political gain we can only hope that more choose to do the same.
This edition is No85 published in March 2005